Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review

Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review
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Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

Welcome to our review of the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701. I have tested the performance of this powerful new gaming laptop over the past couple of weeks, and this is our in-depth review. Honestly, I was apprehensive about conducting this review.

In fact, the Asus ROG Zephrus GX501 blew me away, getting a maximum score of five stars in our review and then going on to top our list of best gaming laptops throughout the rest of the year and winning the T3 Award for Best Gaming Laptop.

Therefore, the GX701 had a very tough act to follow, and I’ve seen enough iterations in the past to know that it’s never a foregone conclusion the maker will be able to replicate the similar success with a new device.

The quick reality check from this Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review is that Asus has managed to create a system that, with a bold double-down on last year’s system, delivers the best-in-class portable PC gaming experience to its users.

Our testing has shown that the GX701 offers gaming power that is different from anything else I have tested here and means that you can approach even the most demanding AAA PC games confident that your system will not only run them but run them at their very best.

To do this, however, the entry price for the system has increased. It was well over two grand when the GX501 launched; the GX701, however, is even more expensive, with the system costing £3,299.99.

Regardless of how you spin that figure, it is a large chunk of change, so the following review will hopefully reveal whether or not you think it is worth it. It is my opinion that this GX701 is the best gaming laptop on the market today, but I also know for sure that I wouldn’t be able to afford it due to its massive price tag.

To get a good sense of the GX701’s hardware and features, you should watch the official launch trailer before reading our full review.

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 REVIEW – KEY SPECS

Weight: 5.95 pounds (2.7kg)

Dimensions: W x D x H = 15.7 x 10.7 x 0.7 inches (39.9 x 27.2 x 1.87cm)

CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H (hexa-core, 9MB cache, up to 4.1GHz)

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q (8GB GDDR6 VRAM); Intel UHD Graphics 630

RAM: 24GB DDR4 (2,666MHz)

Screen: 17.3-inch, Full HD (1,920×1,080) IPS, Pantone Validated (144Hz refresh rate with Nvidia G-Sync)

Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe x4 SSD

Camera: Full HD webcam (1080p, 60fps)

Ports: 2 x USB 3.1 (USB Type-C), 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, headset jack

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 REVIEW: DESIGN AND BUILD

Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review

The first thing you notice when you take the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 out of the box is how heavy (2.7kg) it feels in the hand. The GX701 feels almost monolithically solid, unlike many gaming laptops I’ve tested over the years, which have powerful internals but garish, plastic cases with spongy keyboards. Similarly, the system’s lid is emblazoned with a chrome-finished ROG logo, as it was on last year’s GX501. Elegant.

You will also find a couple of features returning from the Zephyrus S. This includes Asus’s Active Aerodynamic System, which opens the base of the screen automatically when it is opened. By creating a small vent at the rear of the base, heat is dispersed effectively. What a brilliant idea!

The other returning feature is a per-key RGB lighting, N-key rollover keyboard with Aura Sync, but it is not as appealing. Despite being quite feature-rich and perfectly serviceable, the board is somewhat cramped, with its compact layout pushed forward to the front of the system. Because of the GX701’s design, a large venting plate sits above it, which helps cool the hardware inside.

When you’re used to the very best gaming keyboard experiences money can buy (such as the Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo), this keyboard simply cannot compare; I would be lying if I said it was a great experience. At home, I would definitely connect a dedicated gaming keyboard to the GX701 if I had it.

The GX701’s most notable design feature is its recessed vertical scroll wheel used to control the volume of the system. If I am being honest, I was not a fan of the wheel that sits above the F1 key on the keyboard. It works perfectly and I have no complaints about it.

As well as looking ugly, it is positioned very prominently, which is a cardinal sin for something that looks so awful. Every time you look at the Zephyrus S, you can’t miss it, and for me, it is an eyesore on an otherwise wonderful system. Having this feature on the GX501 was much more appealing to me, and I didn’t miss it in the slightest.

Lastly, the GX701 features a USB 3.1 Type-C and two standard USB 3.1 ports on its right side, as well as HDMI 2.0b out, DisplayPort 1.4, standard USB 3.1, and Type-C USB 3.1 ports on the left. A 5mm audio jack and a power port can also be found on the left side of the system.

As you can see, there are a lot of ports available, and I feel that this will be more than adequate for most gamers. I did notice, however, that there isn’t an Ethernet LAN port, which could be an issue for many hardcore or professional gamers. In the event that you are satisfied with a wireless Wi-Fi connection, however, this is irrelevant.

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 REVIEW: SPECS AND HARDWARE

Asus rog

In terms of specs, the Zephyrus S GX701 is an absolute gaming powerhouse. My review unit packed an Intel 2.2GHz i7-8750H Hexa-core CPU able of flying up to 4.1GHz when called on, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q 8GB GDDR6 GPU, 24GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 RAM, a 1TB M.2 PCIe x4 SSD and 17.3-inch Full HD (1,920×1,080) screen.

Furthermore, the GX701’s screen is Pantone validated and boasts a 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync support. Additionally, the system comes with an external Full HD webcam (1080p, 60fps), which can be clipped to the system’s top, while internal chips handle 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

That is one heck of a portable hardware setup, but the star is, hands down, Nvidia’s brand new GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card, which I consider to be an engineering wonder. In spite of being slower than the standard RTX 2080, the Max-Q edition is so incredibly thin that for me, I find the trade-off entirely worthwhile because the GX701 is remarkably portable, despite packing all that hardware and a 17-inch screen.

You can’t play games on the go with this system, don’t get me wrong. Because the system must be plugged into a wall socket for it to perform optimally, a lot of gamers won’t be able to use it on their commute to work, for example.

The thin and flat dimensions of the laptop (39.9 x 27.2 x 1.87cm) make it easy to fit in a bag or rucksack for use in multiple desktop environments. This makes perfect sense to me, given the fact that many buyers will be using this system as a desktop replacement and not a secondary system.

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 REVIEW: GAMING AND PERFORMANCE

As expected, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 returned some very, very strong benchmark scores, considering all that cutting-edge hardware.

As illustrated in the nearby boxout, it scored significantly better than last year’s flagship system, which had scores of 5,576 and 13,929 in 3DMark’s Time Spy and Fire Strike tests compared with 7,301 and 16,558 respectively for the GX701.

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 3DMARK BENCHMARKS

Time Spy: 7,301

Fire Strike: 16,558

Fire Strike Extreme: 9,100

Fire Strike Ultra: 4,666

Sky Diver: 31,616

Night Raid: 28,703

The benchmarks don’t take into account the fact that along with a significant speed increase, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 also includes Nvidia’s RTX 2080 graphics card with Max-Q architecture, in addition to real-time Ray Tracing, which makes the lighting in games more realistic, helping to build a more immersive gaming experience.

This time, I played the well-received new FPS Metro: Exodus, which features lighting and particle effects galore, while also delivering astonishingly detailed worlds due to its 4A Engine. Fortunately, the results were incredible, with the GX701’s screen dripping with visual appeal. Even with all graphics settings turned up to the max in its menu system, Exodus ran like it was covered in cheetah blood.

ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 GEEKBENCH 4 BENCHMARKS

CPU Single-Core: 4,752

CPU Multi-Core: 19,412

Compute: 240,843

Nonetheless, the biggest takeaway from running Metro on a laptop equipped with a ray tracing-enabled GeForce RTX 2080 is that the game’s world looked much more real with the setting on. After experiencing this change, it is hard to go back, since immersive games like Metro rely on recreating that sense of real immersion, and global illumination plays a huge role in that.

In addition to my screenshots from Metro Exodus, a comparison of real-world locations in Chernobyl, Ukraine, and some locations in Metro Exodus shows the GX701 S’s power when it comes to replicating the world of Metro Exodus. 

Utilizing Nvidia’s Ray Traced Global Illumination technology, the in-game scenes and environments not only appear realistic in terms of fidelity and texture depth but are also lit realistically. No matter what time of day it is or what objects or actors interact with an environment’s light, accurate lighting remains. The fact that the portable GX701 has this technology installed is incredible.

On the Zephyrus S GX701, I also played Hitman 2, the latest in the long-running stab-’em-up series. While this game’s engine is not quite as advanced as that in Metro: Exodus, it is different in that it specializes in handling large environments that can contain literally hundreds of NPCs at a time. In addition, it is a game that literally drips with style, so I felt that it was a perfect match for the GX701.

In terms of its posing as a test of this system, the RTX 2080 firing in the heart of the GX701 Hitman 2 just got destroyed. The GX701 took that smoothness of gameplay and high framerate to a whole new level. I had played the game on PS4 Pro and thought it ran well, but this was the first time I had experienced that on a portable system. I enjoyed sneaking around the game’s locations to plan and then execute Silent Assassin kills.

When playing PC games on the GX701, I quickly learned that this hardware is way overkill for a Full HD screen. It ran every title I threw at it and, without doubt, a large part of that is due to it only outputting at 1920 x 1080.

Although the Max-Q RTX 2080 is not as fast as the standard card, it is still powerful enough to handle the requirements of modern AAA PC games, and you can just easily hook up a higher-resolution monitor to the GX701 if you prefer. Therefore, if you wish to play games at 3K or 4K resolutions, the Zephyrus S has the capability to do so.

I think, though, that, with the GX701’s enormous price point, this Full HD screen is indeed the best choice for this machine, since not only is it top of the line, with all the fancy features you’d want, but it is also very future proof. In five years’ time, I feel quite confident that you’ll still be able to run contemporary PC games on the GX701 and they’ll perform quite well.

Pros Cons
Runs relatively quiet despite hardware Battery life is short
Very portable and thin design Cramped keyboard
Superb 17-inch screen with narrow bezels The very high price point
Luxe and innovative build
Simply incredible gaming power

CONCLUSION

If you’re looking for the absolute best gaming laptop on the market today, the GX701 is the machine for you. Although it lacks a network port and has an interestingly designed and positioned volume wheel, aside from those, it delivers incredible gaming performance in an elegantly designed package.

Apart from a lower price point…

However, we often say that if you want the best technology right out of the gate, you have to pay for it, it is as simple as that. Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is an excellent choice for upgrading your portable PC gaming setup if you can afford it.

In today’s market, however, the GX701 is the best gaming laptop in the world and should be right at the top of your list if you’re looking for a hyper-premium upgrade.